Recent investigations have demonstrated that exercise-induced asthma (EIA) can be prevented by inspiration of warm, fully humidified air during exercise. We evaluated the success of a surgical face mask, used to retain warm, humidified, expired air, in preventing EIA in ten asthmatic children. Subjects underwent six minutes of exercise on a treadmill during two sessions, in one session breathing room air and in another wearing a mask covering the nose and mouth. On the control day, average group forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and maximal midexpiratory flow rate (MMEF) decreased from the preexercise baseline value to 66% and 47% of baseline, respectively, at six minutes; on the mask day, FEV1 and MMEF were 91% and 82% of the baseline values (increased in all subjects). A simple face mask may be an inexpensive, nonpharmacologic alternative for alleviation of EIA.
(JAMA 244:2196-2198, 1980).